10 things you didn’t know about Blashford Lakes

Here are ten things you probably didn’t know about Blashford Lakes nature reserve

The Wildlife Trust’s Blashford Lakes nature reserve in the New Forest is a haven for wildlife and people - and we recently celebrated its 20th birthday.

1 It’s a team effort

Blashford Lakes nature reserve covers 150 hectares within the Avon Valley. It’s managed by the Wildlife Trust in partnership with Bournemouth Water, New Forest District Council and Wessex Water.

2 Blashford Lakes has a secret military history

Today it may be famous for its birdlife, but seventy years ago Blashford Lakes was known for some very different airborne high-fliers. During World War II it was the home of RAF Ibsley and its squadrons of spitfires. The base was later decommissioned in 1946.

3 From industrial gravel quarry to watery haven

Blashford Lakes is also home to Ibsley Water – the largest freshwater body in Hampshire. Like the other lakes, Ibsley Water was created from decades of extensive gravel extraction, leaving deep and wide holes in the ground to be filled by the water you see today.

Snipe at Blashford Lakes

© Ian Cameron-Reid

4 The birds come flocking

Blashford Lakes is especially important for waterfowl escaping the harsh winters of the frozen north. Highlights of the reserve in winter include gadwall, pochard, shoveler and wigeon. Migratory green sandpiper and black-tailed godwits can be seen in the autumn.

5 It’s a hotspot for starling murmurations and other gathering birds

Other fantastic sights in the air and on the water at Blashford Lakes include rare gulls, bittern and kingfisher. At this time of year amazing starling murmurations can be enjoyed overhead. See if you can spot them from one of the reserve’s six bird hides!

6 There’s an event for everyone

Last year 110 different events were held at the reserve including Wildlife Watch activities, Healthy Walks and Buggy Walks. Whether you’re an experienced birder or just a nature lover, there’s something for you.

Young Naturalists event bird watching at Blashford Lakes © HIWWT

Young Naturalists event bird watching at Blashford Lakes © HIWWT

7 Some famous visitors make appearances down there

Magnificent migrating ospreys have taken up temporary residence at the reserve while passing through the south of England, delighting visitors with their fishing prowess. If you’re lucky, you might also spot ‘Walter White’, the great white egret who has over-wintered at the reserve since 2003.

8 Blashford is inspiring new nature enthusiasts

Blashford Lakes is home to Young Naturalists – a group of 13 to 18-year-olds who meet monthly for conservation and wildlife activities. The project is generously supported by the Cameron Bespolka Trust and was recently shortlisted for a CPRE Countryside Award.

9 Its packed with wildlife under the water’s surface

The Dockens Water river runs through the reserve, and provides a habitat for sea trout, brook lamprey and bullhead - all of which are internationally protected.

10 You can explore this huge wildlife haven year round

Blashford Lakes nature reserve is open every day (except Christmas Day!)